Twelfth Night

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Twelfth Night, by Shakespeare, is a comedy that embodies the concepts of illusion and deception. The play contains many themes reminiscent of love; however, it is important to analyze the theme of illusion and deception as well. The characters in the play physically deceive and provide illusions, thus, such instances are easy to recognize. On the other hand, at times the reader must interpret and decipher certain behavior in order to determine where an illusion presents itself. An example of this is analyzing both Viola and Feste's characters in the first half of III.i. The scene we chose to act out for the class was III.i.1-67. We chose this scene because it plays an important role in the play's overall theme of illusion. In this particular part of the scene, Feste meets Viola in Olivia's garden. They engage in a rigorous dialogue; upon Feste's exit, Viola is so impressed by his wits that she comments on his intelligence. "This fellow is wise enough to play the fool, / And to do that well, craves a kind of wit" (III.i.59-60) This is the first time that a character openly admits to Feste's intelligence as a fool. Such a comment is ironic in the fact that Feste is the fool in the play, yet he is perhaps the most intelligent character.

In Viola's final passage we learn what it takes to be a good fool. The fool must assess the mood of the characters around him, and know when to comment on the situation and when not to comment on the situation. Generally, in Shakespearean plays, the fool often is the only character that is not involved in the chaos other characters find themselves in. Thus, the fool is able to comment appropriately on the characters behavior, in such a way that expresses the reality of the situation. This ties back to the theme of illusion, because as previously stated, Feste is labeled as the fool, however he is one of the most intelligent characters in the play.

By carefully reading this passage in the play, I...
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